World Today by Binay Srivastava

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India to Build Chabahar port in South-East Iran

The Chabahar port in southeast Iran, when completed, will aid India’s efforts to circumvent Pakistan and open a new route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests. It will also allow India to play a big role in increasing influence in Central Asia.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has asked India to invest in infrastructure projects worth $8 billion, including an expanded role in developing a strategic port that will open up access to Central Asia.

The potential between Iran and India is great provided no new wall of sanctions is imposed by powers that be.

Iran and six world powers have already reached a nuclear deal for sanctions to be lifted. With nuclear sanctions gone, India gets a golden time to seize investment opportunities because of the two countries’ close trade ties and shared interest in improving Central Asian transport links through road connectivity. Iran offered India $8 billion of projects.

India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran’s border with Pakistan, but the venture has moved slowly because of the sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program. The US-led trade restrictions that halved their oil trade to 220,000 barrels per day last year, the two countries maintained a close bilateral and economic relationship. In May, India signed a $85 million deal for India to lease two existing berths at the port and use them as multi-purpose cargo terminals.

Under the new proposal India could help build second and third terminals at the port, as well as railway connections into the rest of Iran.

India has moved slowly on opportunities in Iran in the past, including the giant Farzad B gas field. According to Iran government sources, India was the first priority to develop Farzad B. This time round Iran wants India to move fast or else the market will move elsewhere.

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Is Tibet the Reason for India-China Border Dispute?

India-China border stand-off continues where it has been for the past 50 years despite Chinese and Indian political leadership visiting and signing many agreements. The last few months have witnessed an increase in incursions by Chinese military into western, middle and eastern sectors of India. The Indian political leadership attributes such incidents to difference of perception between India and China over the Line of Actual Control. This timidity emboldens China to enter again anytime anywhere and stake claim to the area. Regular political, diplomatic, and military talks about initiating confidence-building measures over the last three decades have delivered only pious advisories for India and many giveaways to China.

Ever since 1959, Beijing has questioned the legitimacy of the Indian perception of border in Ladakh in the western sector and Arunachal in the eastern sector while middle sector remained relatively calm except for the recent incursion in Barahoti area. China has constructed an all-weather high-altitude 1,200 km long road through strategically important Aksai Chin (western sector) that links Tibet with Sinkiang. China does not recognize the British demarcated McMahon Line, which delineates the border between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet. China annexed Tibet in 1949 and India accorded acceptance in 2003.

Apart from raising field disputes, Beijing plays mind games with equal felicity. Just before the India visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao in November 2006, China described Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet and staked claim to entire area. Similarly, the visit by Premier Li Kequing was vitiated by the armed face off lasting three weeks in Ladakh this April. Disparaging words from Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) preceded the visit by Indian defense minister A.K.Anthony to China two months back.

While claiming an area, whether in the east or west, China cautions India to maintain peace and tranquility at the border. Has not time come for India to adopt a more active China policy for resolving the 4,000 km border (According to China the length of the border only 1600 km)?

China has also begun to nail India using Tibetan plateau as of strategic significance. Many rivers flowing into different countries originate there. Water table in the dry and cold north and east China has reportedly sunk to uneconomic levels. By building dams and canals across Yarlung Zangbo river in Tibet (known as Brahmaputra in India), Beijing wants to divert fresh water to her dry areas; unmindful that such activities will imperil the livelihood of those living in India’s northeast and Bangladesh.

While ethnic Tibetan populace seeking greater freedom is becoming restive with rising incidents of self-immolations, Beijing is responding threateningly claiming entire Arunachal Pradesh. Reacting angrily to New Delhi’s decision to station BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh, India’s first offensive missiles deployment against any country, China blasted the action as ‘no match to its military.’

The root of bad-blood between India and China can be attributed to the shelter India provided to the Dalai Lama when he escaped from Tibet in 1959. The new leadership of China has recently lifted a 17-year ban on display of Dalai Lama’s photos in Tibet ostensibly to amplify policy liberalization but is decidedly meant to prevent further self-immolations that cause global outcries.

China says the Dalai Lama can help restore relations by renouncing calls for Tibet’s independence and accepting Tibet as a part of the country. The Chinese leadership is worried at the possible political instability when it imposes its nominee on the Tibetans after the Dalai Lama. While the older generation reveres the Dalai Lama and his call for peaceful protests, the GenNext, members of Tibetan Youth Congress may indulge in violent means to resist any imposition.

Because of close ethnic relationships between the residents living in Tibet and Arunachal, any eruption of violence in Tibet may vitiate atmosphere in Arunachal Pradesh: that may result in action by the Chinese military. Presumably, till the time Beijing has actually imposed its nominee as the Dalai Lama and Tibet is pacified beyond possibility of self-immolations, it is likely to maintain its claim on Arunachal Pradesh.

China demands India to hand over Tawang in Arunachal, which is the birth place of the sixth Dalai Lama. All discussions for settling border issues between India and China will likely cease only upon completion of “installation of a Beijing-selected Dalai Lama and peace in Tibet.” China then will likely recognize Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India.

Opinion by Binay Srivastava Published in The Headliners Today dated 31 August 2015

URL: http://headlinerstoday.com/blogs/is-tibet-the-reason-for-india-china-border-dispute/

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Nuclear Deal With Iran May Bring Peace and Stability to Asia

Iran appears to be coming out of a long period of isolation and sanctions imposed by Western nations. Yet, it is still not completely out of the woods. The international community had to wait until June 30 for the final deal to be put into place. The framework of the nuclear deal reached between the U.S.-led P5+1 members on one side and Iran on the other could become another landmark statement of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, much like the domestic health policy popularly known as Obamacare. It opens the possibility of redefining international relations strategically the way Nixon’s trip to China did during 1970s.

The U.S.-Iran relationship was consigned to the cold storage after the overthrow of the government of Shah of Iran due to popular disenchantment, followed by Islamic revolution in Iran and subsequent taking of American hostages during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The agreement, signed in Lausanne, Switzerland, which allowed Iran to retain and operate centrifugal plants, albeit on a much smaller scale, could be the first step in the warming of the Iran’s relationship with other countries. This negotiation could lead to an open international trade agreement, instead of dealings conducted in a clandestine manner. This nuclear deal virtually accepts Iran as a key player in the Western region of Asia, and in the process reduces Saudi Arabia’s clout.Despite vehement opposition offered by Israel and Saudi Arabia, the consequence of being dwarfed politically by Western nations in general and the U.S. in particular has miffed them to the core. They have begun jockeying to undo the damage the nuclear deal has done to their prestige. However, the relentless ground attacks, aerial bombings, rocket firings, murders, beheadings, looting, and burnings among bitterly opposed Shia versus Sunni forces in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, as well as the rise of borderless extremist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and even al-Shabaab (in the nearby Somalia-Kenya border region), etc. point to the abject failure of erstwhile tactics of balancing political aspirations among the countries in the Western region of Asia and Northern Africa.

Against this failure to maintain even a modicum of peace in the region, this nuclear deal seems like a positive step in the direction of thwarting the arms race in Asia. This bet by Obama on deterring Iran from building nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment at permitted centrifugal plants must pass the immediate test at home, where many Republicans as well as Democrats are openly skeptical of the agreement. If it goes as planned, peace is likely to prevail and citizens in the area, as well as the rest of Asia, can breathe easy.

All those countries that have maintained reasonably good economic and diplomatic relations with Iran, though in somewhat restrained manner, during the U.S.-imposed sanction days, any easing of restrictions allowing Iran to import, export, and earn revenue will be a hugely welcome step in the direction of peace. Moreover, it will enable increased energy supplies thereby maintaining its lower prices in international markets.

Economic gains notwithstanding, the final conclusion of the nuclear deal may help soothe the ties between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shia-led Iran. This perception would help reduce the regional rivalries among nations and limit space for extremist groups from destabilizing the Western region of Asia and nearby areas. This nuclear deal will have a positive impact over peace and stability on Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as on China, India, and the rest of the globe.

 

Opinion and Blog By Binay Srivastava

 

Published in Headliners Today on 3 September 2015 under

URL http://headlinerstoday.com/blogs/nuclear-deal-with-iran-may-bring-peace-and-stability-to-asia/

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Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar

He entered the field, he played and he conquered. None predicted, until he proved, that someday a guy next door would hit so big, that he will be accredited as the god of cricket. This guy was Sachin Tendulkar.

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Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was born on 24 April 1973.  He is regarded as the greatest batsman of the world of cricket till now; he popularly holds the title of “the Messiah of Cricket” among his fans. He is also acknowledged as the cricketer who has made the maximum runs and has played the highest number of matches. He took up cricket at the tender age of eleven.

Soon after at the age of sixteen, he made his Test debut against Pakistan, and went on to represent Mumbai domestically and India internationally when he was close to twenty-four years. When one talks about records, Sachin is incomparable because he is the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries, and the first batsman to score a double century in a One Day International. He is also the only player to complete more than 30,000 runs in international cricket. In October 2013, he became the 16th player and first Indian to aggregate 50,000 runs in all recognized forms of cricket. One of the most popular sayings by his fans is “Cricket is my religion and Sachin is my God”

Tendulkar’s entry into world cricket was glorified by former Indian stars and those who had seen him play. Tendulkar’s consistent performances earned him a fan following across the globe, especially amongst Australian crowds, where Tendulkar has time and again scored centuries.

His father, Ramesh Tendulkar, was a well-known Marathi novelist and his mother, Rajni, worked in the insurance industry. Ramesh named Tendulkar after his favourite music director, Sachin Dev Burman. Tendulkar has three elder siblings: two half-brothers Nitin and Ajit, and a half-sister Savita. As a young boy, Tendulkar was considered a bully, and he often picked up fights with new children in his school, until then who knew that he would grow up to be a complete gentleman.

He also showed interest in tennis, idolising John McEnroe. To restrain his mischievous and bullying tendencies, Ajit introduced him to cricket in 1984. He introduced the young Sachin to Ramakant Achrekar, a famous cricket coach and a club cricketer of repute. In the first meeting, the young Sachin did not play his best. Ajit requested the coach to give him another chance at playing. This time, Sachin, apparently, played much better and was accepted at Achrekar’s academy. Ajit is ten years elder to Sachin and is credited by him for playing a pivotal role in his life.

Achrekar was impressed with Tendulkar’s talent and advised him to shift his schooling to Sharadashram Vidyamandir High School, a school at Dadar , Mumbai which had a dominant cricket team and had produced many outstanding cricketers.  Tendulkar would practice for hours on end in the nets. If he became exhausted, Achrekar would put a one-rupee coin on the top of the stumps, and the bowler who dismissed Tendulkar would get the coin. If Tendulkar passed the whole session without getting dismissed, the coach would give him the coin. Tendulkar now considers the 13 coins he won then, as some of his most prized possessions. Meanwhile at school, he developed a reputation as a child prodigy. He had become a common conversation point like hot cakes in local cricketing circles, where there were predictions already that he would become one of the greatest cricketers.

Sachin constantly represented his school Shardashram Vidyamandir team, in Matunga Gujarati Seva Mandal Shield. Besides school cricket, he also played club cricket, initially representing John Bright Cricket Club in Mumbai’s premier club cricket tournament, the Kanga League, and later went on to play for the Cricket Club of India. In 1987, at the age of 14, he attended the MRF Pace Foundation in Madras (now Chennai) to train as a fast bowler, but Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, who took a world record 355 Test wickets, was unconvinced, and suggested that Tendulkar should focus on his batting instead.

On January 20, 1987, he also turned out as a substitute for Imran Khan’s side in an exhibition game at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, to mark the golden jubilee of Cricket Club of India. A couple of months later, former Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar gave him a pair of his own ultra light pads and consoled him to not get disheartened for not getting the Mumbai Cricket Association’s “Best junior cricket award”. Sachin served as a Ballboy in 1987 Cricket World Cup when India played against England in the semifinal in Mumbai.

His season in 1988 was extraordinary, with Tendulkar scoring a century in every innings he played. He was involved in an unbroken 664-run partnership in a Lord Harris Shield inter-school game against St. Xavier’s High School in 1988 with his friend and team-mate Vinod Kambli, who would also go on to represent India. The destructive pair reduced one bowler to tears and made the rest of the opposition unwilling to continue the game. Tendulkar scored 326 (not out) in this innings and scored over a thousand runs in the tournament. This was a record partnership in any form of cricket until 2006. On 24 May 1995, at the age of 22, Tendulkar married Anjali, a paediatrician and daughter of Gujarati industrialist Anand Mehta and British social worker Annabel Mehta. Anjali is six years older to Sachin.  They had a courtship of five years and had got engaged in 1994 in New Zealand. They have two children, Sara and Arjun.

In 2002, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack ranked him the second greatest Test batsman of all time, behind Don Bradman, and the second greatest ODI batsman of all time, behind Viv Richards.  Later in his career, Tendulkar was a part of the Indian team that won the 2011 World Cup, his first win in six World Cup appearances for India. He had previously been named “Player of the Tournament” at the 2003 edition of the tournament, held in South Africa. In 2013, he was the only Indian cricketer included in an all-time Test World XI named to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

Tendulkar received the Arjuna Award in 1994 for his outstanding sports achievement. It’s noteworthy that Tendulkar is the only cricketer to achieve the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, 1997, which is India’s highest honour given in the field of sports.Sachin has also been awarded, the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan awards in 1999 and 2008, respectively, India’s fourth and second highest civilian awards. within a few hours of ending of his last  match before retirement  on 16 November 2013, the Prime Minister’s Office declared the decision to award Tendulkar with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, making him the youngest recipient till date and the first ever sportsperson to receive the award. He also won the 2010 Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for cricketer of the year at the ICC awards. In 2012,

Tendulkar was nominated to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India.  He was also the first sportsperson (and the first without an aviation background) to be awarded the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Force.  In 2012, he was named an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia. In the year 2013, he was declared as the member of Rajya Sabha.

It was a big shock to all his passionate fans, when on December 2012; Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs.  He retired from Twenty20 cricket in October 2013 and subsequently announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, on 16 November 2013 after playing his200th and final Test match, against the West Indies in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. During his span as an active player, Tendulkar played 664 international cricket matches in total, scoring 34,357 runs.

He is also considered as a philanthropist and it is said that Tendulkar sponsors 200 underprivileged children every year through Apnalaya, a Mumbai-based NGO associated with his mother-in-law, Annabel Mehta. A request from Sachin on Twitter raised Rs. 1.025 crore for the Crusade against Cancer foundation. Sachin Tendulkar spent nine hours on the 12-hour Coca-Cola-NDTV Support My School telethon on 18 September 2011 that helped raise Rs. 7 crore – Rs. 2 crore more than the target – for the creation of basic facilities, particularly toilets for girl students, in 140 government schools across the country.

Tendulkar has opened two restaurants: Tendulkar’s (Colaba, Mumbai) and Sachin’s (Mulund, Mumbai). Sachin owns these restaurants in partnership with Sanjay Narang of Mars Restaurants.

In 2007, Tendulkar also announced a joint venture with the Future Group and Manipal Group to launch healthcare and sports fitness products under the brand name ‘S Drive and Sach’. A series of comic books by Virgin Comics is also due to be published featuring him as a superhero.

His selfless approach and devotion to cricket coupled with the lack of any ego problems made him one of the most approachable and likeable personalities in the field of cricket. Not only fans but his own colleagues saw him as a living legend always. And undoubtedly he is truly the champion of cricket and the hearts of people.

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